Spray Can Insulated Mug

Bristol is known for being great at many things. Graffiti is one of those things. Events celebrating the rebellious paint form such as Upfest or See No Evil spruce up the city’s otherwise boring walls with fantastic murals of colour, slogans and characters. Plus, we have Banksy.

It seems apt then that I Want One Of Those (or IWOOT as the Internet calls them) wanted to send this Bristolian something in the shape of a spray can: an insulated travel mug.

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The deign is very cool, looking very much like a spray can and sparking lots of “what is that?” comments when I start drinking out of its spray nozzle. It is certainly very different and stands out amongst a sea of functional Thermos flasks.

But while it looks really cool, that is where the positives end. It sadly doesn’t actually do its fundamental job of being an insulated travel mug very well.

My first test for it came in the form of a tea. Boiling hot water was poured, tea was stewed and I left if it for 90 minutes, anticipating the steaming tea I was promised by this spray can. It was cold. Not luke warm. Cold.

Granted it isn’t a Thermos flask and it is a novelty product but if I’d expect it to at least have some remaining heat if I were taking it with me on my travels.

So it fails on keeping liquid warm, but what about containing said liquids? This does that. Kind of.

The seal on the lid and the lid itself are not 100% leak-proof. The lid needs to be pushed down very hard to seal it correctly and the lid’s opening is quite loose, meaning it can easily be opened, especially when on the move. That’s bad news if you’ve put boiling water in it in the last 10 minutes, as it will soon be all over your hands, your mouth or, worse, your lap.

Overall, as you’d expect from all I Want One Of Those products, it is a cool present to get someone you don’t have any other ideas for. It is different, a good novelty and under a tenner. Tick. However, when you actually go to use it, that is where it lets you down. It does a job for whoever is buying it, but not for those receiving it as a gift.

The above products were sent to me for an independent review by IWOOT team. I was under no obligation to provide a positive review. You can read my review policy here.

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Brother Max Baby Thermometers

In a world where you are swimming in things in the nursery (stacking cups, bibs, nappies, books, chairs, vests, muslins, walkers – you get the point) a small something that can take the place of several things is already on to a winner.

So when Brother Max said they wanted me to try out five things that are just two things I almost bit their hand off…

Brother Max One-Touch 3-in-1 Digital Thermometer

The ‘three’ bit comes from the readings it gives; ear, forehead and room. And it will give you a reading for whichever one you choose in just 1 second to an accuracy of 0.1 degrees thanks to using fancy infrared technology.

When you have a potentially ill baby wriggling and screaming in your arms, needing their temperature taken, there are two things you really need; quickness and accuracy. This thermometer gives you both, in abundance.

As a room thermometer this also ticks a lot of boxes. It has a dock that you can rest on a surface or attach to the wall. Don’t worry about which way up you put it, like a smartphone it will self-correct the display! How clever is that? For a thermometer!

The price may catch some people out (it retails at about £34.99) but you’re paying for the features and the ease of use. We had a cheaper thermometer from Lloyds Pharmacy, but it doesn’t double up as a room temperature checker, it’s not as quick, it can only be used externally. You see where I’m going; it may seem like a lot for a thermometer but it really gives you great value for money.

Brother Max Ray Bath and Room Thermometer

Temperature is important as a parent. Little people need extra care when it comes to hot and cold. Usually something that helps you out with that would be boring. This isn’t. It llooks and acts like a toy. And one that looks like a manta ray at that!

Throw it into the bath as you run the water and it’ll let you know what the temperature is. If it gets too hot the LCD screen starts flashing away letting you know it’s not good for little skin. It also saves you from burning the skin off your elbow when you test the water yourself.

Amelia loves the colours and the shape, sinking her teeth into it given half a chance. It keeps her happy as we transition from the bath to her bedroom to get her all ready for (what I hope will be) sleepy time. This is where it doubles up to become a room thermometer.

Once I can get it out of the her superglue-esque grip I can set it on the side and it’ll tell me if the room is anywhere near the recommended 19 degrees. If it gets too chilly it gives you a visual warning, like it does with the bath water, so you can take action.

Overall, both of these are great pieces of kit that give that added peace of mind to parents, especially first timers, while also being highly functional and practical. As mentioned before, the price could put some people off but you get great value for money from Brother Max so I’d recommend splashing out if you can.

The above products were sent to me for an independent review by Brother Max team. I was under no obligation to provide a positive review. You can read my review policy here.

Tough Mudder Training: HHIIT (Homemade High Intensity Interval Training)

As you may know, I have gone a bit mental and signed up for the South West Tough Mudder. My judgement day is fast approaching (September 21st) so I am in the midst of my training plan.

Training for a marathon is easy. Run, run, don’t run, run a little further. Simple. This is a little different.

My weekly plan consists of eating clean (overnight oats, no-bake energy balls), 24 miles of cycling a week, a run (gradually increasing to 8 miles) and some interval training. My gym puts on interval classes, but seeing as I can do it for free on a nice village green outside my house, I’ve been using a homemade version made up of things picked up from the gym and my ex-PT brother-in-law.

So what is a HHIIT? First of all, it stands for Homemade High Intensity Interval Training. Second of all, it is a series of exercises whereby you bust your gut for 30 seconds for each one, without a break in between. Do them all once, then have a quick break. Do it again. And again. Then you’re done. Not only is it effective, but it’s also quite quick.

HHIIT

So, three sets of 30 seconds bursts of:

Stair Climbs
Hands on the floor in a press-up position, then bring one knee up to your chest/stomach, then the other, as if you were, you guessed it, climbing stairs.

These will be good for the 10-12 miles I’ll have to run.

Standing Knee Raises
Stand on the spot, raise one knee and twist to touch your opposite elbow with it. Drop the knee and do it with the other side.

These will be good to increase the range of motion in my legs and hips to try and counteract the impact of the distance and the obstacles.

Burpees
Jump up, land, hands on the floor, fire your legs back. Pop them back in, stand up. Repeat. You’ll get 10 seconds in and think you can do them forever, then they’ll start working…

These will build up the explosive power needed to tackle the Dirty Ballerina.

Plank with Knee Raises
Get into the press-up position, then bring one leg up, like a dog cocking their leg… Bring it up as far up your side as you can. Then do the other side. The last set will feel like they take about 5 minutes.

They work your obliques something rotten, which will come in handy for the Trench Warfare and Boa Constricter obstacles.

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Renegade Rows
These can also be known as Alligator Walks. Again, press-up position, with a wide hand stance. Lift your right or left hand straight upwards, like an alligator would walk. Get it? Do the other side.

These work your core and your obliques, so they’re good prep for Devil’s Beard and the wonderfully named Turd’s Nest.

Jumps
Jump up and down. Done.

This is good for all round cardio and explosive power needed to get up/over things such as Everest and Berlin Walls.

Press-Ups
Get into the press-up position. Do a press-up. Then do some more.

These will help boost arm and chest strength for Funky Monkey and Hanging’ Tough.

Squats
Stand up. Then act like you’re going to sit down, sticking your bum out a bit, stopping before your bum goes lower than your knees. Then stand up again. Carry on. Nearly there.

Twists
That old favourite, yup, the press-up position, then lift one arm, twist your upper body and turn so you’re pretty much sideways. Return back to the middle and do the other side. Well done. Only one more to go.

Plank
In that classic press-up position again, but this time, instead of being on your hands, move down on to you elbows with your forearms level with the floor. Keep your bum down and brace your abs. Hold it and keep your back straight. My back wants to break by the second attempt so they’re a good one to end on.

Both these and the Twists will help create a strong core and improve my balance for obstacles such as Twinkle Toes.

Now, you’ve tanked through them all, do it again, and again!

Now if I could only find some exercises to prepare me for Arctic Enema, Electric Eel and Fire Walker

I’m supporting Macmillan Cancer Support because everyone hates cancer and those suffering from it get some great support from Macmillan, so they deserve some more cash. If you fancy donating a few pennies you can at my JustGiving page.

No-bake Energy Balls

Eating clean is hard. It’s not finding things to eat. Recipes are easy to find but there is a part of my brain that wakes up every now again and demands that I eat four times my body weight in Haribo. The hard bit is ignoring it.

I have found a way of shutting it up, getting something yummy in my gob and getting a little boost of energy at the same time.

No-bake Energy Balls are quick and easy to make and just as quick and easy to eat. They make for great snacks that provide a good balance of complex carbohydrates, fibre, protein and omega 3, as well as keeping you away from the Haribo. For now.

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Ingredients (makes around 10 balls)

  • 30g Desiccated coconut
  • 60g Porridge oats
  • 30g Ground flaxseed
  • 40g Crunchy peanut butter (approx 2 tbsp)
  • 30g Runny honey (approx 3 tsp)
  • 1/2 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 1 Medium banana
  • 53g milk chocolate (approx 4 squares of a bar)

Directions
Put it all in a bowl. No particular order needed. On my second batch I left the honey until last so the oats didn’t soak it all up, but it really didn’t make a difference.

Mix it all about. You may need to mush the peanut butter down a bit so you don’t end with one energy ball that is just a lump of peanut butter covered in oats and coconut.

Once that’s done you can get on to making the balls. Grab a small handful of the mixture, wrap your hand around it and squeeze. I then push the excess back into the ball at both ends with my thumb while my hand is still closed. Shape the lump into a ball and there you have it. Your first no-bake energy ball! Well done!

Repeat 9 times or until your mixture runs out.

Pop them gently into an airtight container and keep in the fridge. I say that last for a week but they could last longer. They’ve never survived long enough for me to find out.

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You can add different things in there to make your own versions. I’ve been tempted to replace the chocolate with some cranberries or similar dried fruit. I did try leaving out the chocolate, melting it down and using it to cover the outside of the balls. Fancy trying that as well? Don’t. They’re too delicate for that. They fall apart and you’re left with an oaty, cocnutty, chocolatty mess instead of an awesome snack.

Nutrition
Per ball (recipe makes around 10 balls)

Calories 120

Total fat 7.2g
Saturated: 2.0g
Polyunsaturated: 0.7g
Monounsaturated: 0.7g
Trans/hydrogenated: 0.0g
Cholesterol 0.0mg
Sodium 10.1mg
Potassium 0mg
Total carbs 9.6g
Fibre: 1.7g
Sugars: 2.8g
Protein 2.9g
Vitamin A 0.0%
Vitamin C 0.0%
Calcium 1.0%
Iron 3.9%

I adapted this recipe from one I found through Pinterest, but omitted a few things (chia seeds?) and changed a couple of measurements as it was an American recipe using their silly cup system…

Pure One Mini DAB Digital Radio

As I spend more and more time in the kitchen, playing around with my clean eating regime in preparation for Tough Mudder, I found myself needing music to keep me company.

Wanting to be hip and listen to the trendy stuff on BBC 6music, and having some vouchers, I decided to  get a DAB digital radio from John Lewis. They had a good selection, including one that looked slightly like a Lego brick and others with alarm clocks (but who needs those with a 10 month old?). In the end I opted for the Pure One Mini.

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The design is quite compact and stylish. It won’t take up too much room in my kitchen, which is a key factor as my ever-baking wife is a worktop hog. It’s simple design means it’s so straight forward that even a sleep-deprived zombie-dad can use it. Which is handy because I think I fall into that demographic. A few buttons on the top and the volume dial does the scrolling. Easy.

The functionality is a bit one-dimensional, but what do you expect? It tells you exactly what it is without fuss;  a digital radio. It doesn’t have any bells and whistles and that would be fine, but for the price (£50) you would expect at least one whistle.

What you do get instead of features is very good build quality. It feels robust and hard-wearing so it isn’t threatened by a little explorer tugging at the wires. (The display is also a tad too bright to take photos of…)

The sound is pretty good for such a small box. It isn’t tinny like I’ve experienced with other radios and it can get pretty loud, so those hipster songs sound extra hip.

The only downside I’ve found so far is that the signal can be easily impacted by me and my accompanying limbs. The sound quality means that you can really hear any skips and glitches in the audio. Signal, both radio and mobile, is a bit of an issue around my way so it’s not entirely the radio’s fault but it does seem a tad touchy.

Overall, I think it is a neat little device that does its one and only job well, but also sits quietly (or not if you want) in the corner. It’ll always be easily beaten on price by other lesser-known radios, but the quality of this one shines through and shows you where the value for money is.

This was a featured post. I was providedworth vouchers and bought the Pure Mini One for an independent review. I was under no obligation to provide a positive review. You can read my review policy here.

Banananut Butter Overnight Oats

After the initial boyish excitement of signing up to throw myself around an obstacle course for charity my brain quickly realised that I would need to eat well, not just train well.

That’s why I’ve been trying to eat clean as often as possible, eating less processed things and trying to balance out my diet. Lunch and dinner are easy to vary, but I’ve struggled with breakfast recently. Porridge was a first call for breakfast but after 3 weeks this has gotten a bit boring, so I’m trying something that I don’t think any person has ever achieved before: making porridge oats interesting.

But I found an answer and that answer is banananut butter overnight oats.

They sound fancy, they look fancy, but they’re really incredible easy and yummy. Get the ingredients, pile them into a jar, shake, pop into the fridge, go to bed, eat in the morning. Done.

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Ingredients

  • 65g Porridge oats
  • 10g Ground flaxseed
  • 50g Crunchy peanut butter (approx 2 tbsp)
  • 150ml Skimmed milk
  • 18g Runny honey (approx 2 tsp)
  • 80g Greek yoghurt
  • 1 Medium banana

Directions
Didn’t you read the bit above the ingredients list? Whack everything but the banana into a jar. Shake it up. It doesn’t even matter what order you do it in!

Once you’ve had enough fun trying to not throw a full jar across your kitchen, pop it into the fridge and then go to bed. When you get up and are ready for breakfast, slice the banana over the top and dig in!

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I thought this was easy and yummy, really giving porridge oats the lift I was searching for after 3 weeks of bland.

You can change the thickness of the oats by using semi-skimmed instead of skimmed or just add less milk and more yoghurt. I found the above amounts to be a bit stodgy so I’d suggest adding 25ml more milk and 10-15g less yoghurt, or even both. Sort your own breakfast out. I’m not your mum.

You can also add in different things, like fruit, nuts or coconut. Once I’ve had my second helping of this one tomorrow I’m either going to make an apple and cinnamon version or one packed with berries! Nom.

Nutrition
Per serving (recipe makes 2)

Calories 493

Total fat 18.4g
Saturated: 3.3g
Polyunsaturated: 1.6g
Monounsaturated: 0.4g
Trans/hydrogenated: 0.0g
Cholesterol 0.0mg
Sodium 139.4mg
Potassium 181.1mg
Total carbs 49.9g
Fibre: 7.2g
Sugars: 18.7g
Protein 16.7g
Vitamin A 0.5%
Vitamin C 7.5%
Calcium 4.8%
Iron 16.0%

I adapted this recipe from one I found on Pinterest, but had to change some amounts and also work out measurements as it was an American recipes using their silly cup system…

Oh dear. I’ve signed up for the Tough Mudder.

Oh dear. Oh deary deary me. What have I done?

Usually this blog sees me trying nice things such as chocolates, wine or baby things. Not this time. This time it is different. This time it is an event. A crazy event.

It’s the Tough Mudder.

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The Tough Mudder is a hardcore 10-12 mile obstacle courses designed by Special Forces. It tests all-round strength, stamina and determination. I’ll be taking part in the South West version on September 21st.

Throwing yourself into a pile of mud with your mates sounds like a bunch of stupid fun but when you start looking at the obstacles (fire, ice, electricity) and the distance (10-12 miles) the reality soon hits you in the face like a belly flop into a dirty puddle. The Tough Mudder team claim that only 78% of entrants successfully complete each challenge and I have to sign a death waiver (a death waiver!) so you start to understand what faces me…

This is easily the hardest thing I have ever done (bar surviving at work on 3 hours of sleep after paternity leave). I did run the Bristol Half Marathon in 2009, but even then I did it in quite a slow time for someone of my age and fitness thanks to old man knees, so this is a big deal.

Because it’s such a big deal I’ve decided to give myself a reason for being so stupid: raising money for charity. I’m supporting Macmillan Cancer Support because everyone hates cancer and those suffering from it get some great support from Macmillan, so they deserve some more cash. If you fancy donating a few pennies you can at my JustGiving page – but I won’t hold it against you if you just say “good luck” instead.

To prepare for my big showdown I’ve started making sure I’m eating and training correctly. Thanks to my brother-in-law I’ve now got a calorie target and plenty of nutritional information on what is good to eat and I’m learning lots from a few books and blogs as well.

With that bit sorted, training is next. The past couple of weeks have been about ramping up the exercise to a full-blown training week: internal training Tuesday, cycle 12 miles Thursday and Friday and a run (increasing to 8 miles) on Sunday. That schedule starts next week for 10 weeks. Phew.

I’ll be posting a few updates every now and again and will also let you know how the big day goes, unless the death waiver comes in handy for Tough Mudder® Ltd of course.

Wish me luck.

Baker Days – a cake in the post

Want some cake? Of course you do. Everyone loves cake.

That made this review tough. Cake is glorious cake and can’t really have anything to make it stand out other than its amazing cakiness right? Well, Baker Days have something different.

Not only do they personalise designs, in a similar way that Moonpig does cards, they also offer cakes that are small enough to be posted through your letterbox!

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My cake arrived – in perfect condition thanks to it’s tin – with a special message, a party whistle, candles, a blank card for a message and some balloons. This means you can order it and have it delivered to your house or office, confident you just need a pen and matches and you’re away. I would say that the tin makes a handy container to keep the spare cake for up to 14 days, but whoever heard of such thing as spare cake?

There are tons of designs. Choose from humour, celebration, occasion, all sorts. And on top of that there are a few choices of cake as well; sponge, carrot, chocolate chip and gluten free.

I was sent a carrot cake, which was nice enough. Being letterbox-sized means that you don’t get a cream filling in the middle meaning that you would expect the cake to be a tiny bit drier than usual but it was still lovely and moist and the quality of the sponge was top notch. And trust me, I double-checked with another slice to make sure it was like that the whole way round.

While it ticks all the boxes of fun and functionality, the big sticking point will be the price. The personalised letterbox cakes, including the party bits and delivery, come in at £14.99 for the standard sponge. That’s a big number for 3-4 slices.

I’d be delighted to receive one, not so much to pay for one but if you’re stuck for a last-minute present that is different from a bottle of fizz or some chocolates they are a fantastic option.

The above products were sent to me for an independent review by Baker Days team. I was under no obligation to provide a positive review. You can read my review policy here.

Giveaway: Funky Giraffe Dribble Bib

Previously I reviewed Funky Giraffe’s range of dribble bibs and absolutely loved them. Now, in time for Father’s Day, I’ve teamed up with them to giveaway two of their great designs, which would make great Father’s Day gifts!

To enter, simply complete the form below. Two winners will be picked at random.

Two winners will be picked at random when the giveaway ends at 10pm on Thursday 6th June 2013. The two winners details will be passed to Natalie at Love PR London, who will send the prizes.

Neither Jake Tries Things, Love PR London or Funky Giraffe will use entrants details for anything else other than contacting the two winners. We won’t spam you or subscribe you to newsletters. Good luck!

Gummee Glove Teething Mitten

Babies are lovely. However, babies, once they reach a few months of age, become eating machines. Not food, just things. Everything goes in the mouth; fingers, remote controls, chins, books, iPads, wet wipe bags. Everything.

It aids discovery but mainly soothes gums as tiny little razors try and break through their skin. Amelia reached that stage a while ago and, as a result, we are swimming in toys to soothe her (and distract her from the non-dribbleproof technology in our house).

The problem is that little people have little hands with little grip. More often than not, Amelia will have a teething toy for 10 seconds, then it is dropped on the floor. Daddy picks it up, gives it back, chomp chomp chomp, floor. Repeat ad infinitum.

One parent had the same problem and came up with the Gummee Glove.

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The Gummee Glove is a teething mitten that tries to get rid of the problem of little ‘uns lobbing toys they were eating away then moaning that they haven’t got a toy to eat.

It has three teething edges, a black and white crinkle patch (good for visual and audio stimulation) and a pocket to hold a teething ring. The sample I was sent came with a pink ring (blue is the other option naturally) which can be popped in the fridge to add extra cooling effect for little people or even replaced with a similar-sized teething ring that you might already have.

I found that while Amelia loved chomping away on it, the Gummee Glove acted like a sponge and soaked up all her dribble, then when she crawled along, she left little wet patches in her wake. She also got a little grumpy when she wanted to grab things with that hand and started to try and yank it off after about 10 minutes. I don’t think this would be a problem with younger babies, but Amelia is approaching 8 months so perhaps she is a little old for it.

The price may put some people off – £10.99 plus £3.60 P+P – but it depends how much you value saving time and your back, as well as not having to take several teethers out with you as they’ll all get dropped on icky floors.

Overall, I think that the Gummee Glove is great idea, with some little clever thoughts here and there to make it stand out in a crowded teething toy market. It is better suited to younger babies just starting to teeth, not crawling around or at a stage where they are able to pull it off.

The above products were sent to me for an independent review by The Gummee Glove team. I was under no obligation to provide a positive review. You can read my review policy here.